Speech teacher James Leeds (William Hurt) uses unconventional methods to reach his hearing-impaired students but can't make headway with the school's deaf custodian, Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin, who captured the Best Actress Oscar). The brainy but cynical Sarah thinks it's better to stay in the safe confines of her voiceless milieu than to contend with a callous world. Can James get through to Sarah and release her from her cocoon of silence?
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